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The Petro Mirage

A Conversation on Oil's Failed Promises in Developing Countries with Oil on the Brain's Lisa Margonelli

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Over the past decade, improving the development and governance in oil-producing countries has become an international project encompassing everything from the NGO-lead Publish What You Pay campaign, to transparency and anti-corruption initiatives, "future generations" accounts for oil royalties, the World Bank's model project in Chad, and even Hugo Chavez's attempt at refocussing Venezuela's national oil company on local development projects. While a consensus has evolved around the problems that oil poses for development, the solutions are still a work in progress.

While researching her book Oil On the Brain: Adventures from the Pump to the Pipeline, Lisa Margonelli investigated the confluence of economic, political, and environmental issues that impede development in countries including Venezuela, Chad, Iran and Nigeria. An Irvine Fellow at the New America Foundation, Margonelli kicked off a discussion on the relationship between petrostate leaders and the psychological aspects of living in an oil state, the relationship between corruption and government institutions including tax collections, the "new" nationalism in oil states, and the emerging relationship between violence and oil prices. The discussion also addressed the status of the Chad project as a "model," and whether Venezuela's new initiatives are encouraging development or merely creating a new system of patronage.

Video of this event is available at right, while an MP3 audio recording can be downloaded below.


New America Foundation
1630 Connecticut Ave, NW 7th Floor
Washington, DC, 20009
See map: Google Maps


  • Lisa Margonelli
    Irvine Fellow, New America Foundation
    Author, Oil on the Brain
  • Anton Op de Beke
    Senior Economist, International Monetary Fund
  • Ian Gary (moderator)
    Policy Advisor for Extractive Industries, Oxfam America
    Author of the report, Chad's Oil: Miracle or Mirage?

Event Time and Location

Wednesday, May 16, 2007 - 4:00pm - 6:00pm

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